Our Father in Heaven far exceeds the box in which I so often try to put him. I try to manipulate that same box for my gain and my glory, none of which brings God glory (and only he deserves that glory in the first place).
I currently have the pleasure of visiting Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, MA. I’m staying with my dear friend Kylie and her family (her parents work at Mountain and Kylie is doing the Semester in Ministry internship program that Mountain provides through Milligan), and they have been so encouraging to me! Staying with Kylie’s family has provided me a really neat view into what the Mountain community looks like up here… and I have been so pleasantly surprised by the genuine, authentic, and Christ-exalting community I have witnessed thus far. I say that with the humbling realization that my previous view of this community (and really any church community that I haven’t experienced) was based 100% on my own sinful judgment.
Living here for these short days and seeing the way these people love each other, care for each other, and make sacrifices for each other has brought me to my knees at the Father’s feet, so thankful that he is bigger and infinitely more gracious than I.
It is my tendency to live with a narrow mind. I think that only my experiences are true and valuable and am doubtful such experiences can exist elsewhere. For instance, I have great community through the Oaks Community Church back home and Redeemer Community Church in Johnson City. Since I have experienced those wonderful communities in which I live first hand, I can’t imagine ever having to leave and join another community. I fear that a new community won’t push me deeper into the Gospel or really challenge the sin in my life. I fear I won’t have people to be truly honest with and people to counsel me through challenging periods of my life. I fear I won’t have anyone to serve in those ways as well.
The root of those fears stems from much deeper fears: I really fear that God will not provide for me. I fear that God cannot create and has not created those kinds of communities in places where I haven’t lived. I fear that God isn’t bigger than the box I put him in in my mind. I fear that I won’t be taken care of if I’m not around people I know will take care of me… so not only do I fear God won’t provide, but I think that people will provide and care for me. While people can do those things (and are called to), they are not the ultimate and foremost source of my provision–God is.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and grow weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31.
But now, thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you.”
This God is clearly Provider, Savior, Giver, Lord, King, Father, Protector, and Redeemer. This Scripture leaves me in awe, astounded that I could ever esteem people higher than the Lord or doubt his provision for me.
Thankfully, he is faithful even when I am not.
If we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself. 2 Tim 2:13
He protects me.
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 2 Thess 3:3
He is for me and does not withhold anything good from me.
If God is for us, who can stand against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
He sustains me.
Our Lord Jesus Christ will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)
He loves me.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10
He desires my sanctification.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification. 1 Thess 4:3
And he desires me to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim 2:3-4
Needless to say, this weekend has been a forming few days. I’m so thankful to experience and learn from another part of the larger body of Christ. And I know that no matter where I end up after graduation and all throughout my life, God is faithful.